Getting your benefits backdated
If you’ve had a delay in applying for benefits, you can sometimes get them backdated. This means you’ll get some extra money to cover the period before you applied.
Check if you could backdate your claim for Universal Credit, Housing Benefit or council tax reduction. A benefits adviser can help you make sure you get all the benefits you're entitled to.
Backdating Universal Credit
You could get Universal Credit backdated for up to 1 month.
You'll need to give a specific reason why you could not apply earlier. For example, this could be because:
you have a disability
you’ve had health problems, including mental health, that stopped you from claiming earlier
the online application system was not working, and you claimed as soon as it was working again
you were previously getting a different benefit, and you were not told it was going to stop
you were previously claiming jointly with a partner, and now you’re claiming as a single person
you were given wrong information by someone at the DWP
How to apply
Phone the Universal Credit helpline. Explain that you want to backdate your claim and why you could not apply earlier.
They should tell you how to apply and what evidence you need to give.
Backdating Housing Benefit or council tax reduction
The rules depend on your age.
If you’re pension age
You can usually get Housing Benefit or council tax reduction backdated for up to 3 months if you applied late. You do not need to give a reason.
If you’re working age
You can get your benefits backdated if you have a good reason for not claiming earlier. This could include if:
you were in hospital or prison
you have a disability or health problems that stopped you from claiming earlier
you were given wrong information by someone at the council or the DWP
you could not understand information about benefits because of your literacy or language skills
You can usually get:
Housing Benefit backdated for up to 1 month
council tax reduction backdated for up to 3 months
The council can sometimes agree to backdate your benefits for longer. They should look at all your circumstances to decide whether the delay in your application was reasonable.
How to apply
Find your council's details on GOV.UK and check how to apply for Housing Benefit or council tax reduction.
There may be a section on the application form about backdating your claim. If not, you'll usually need to write to the council to request backdated benefits.
The council might ask you to give proof of why you could not apply earlier. For example, this could be a letter from a doctor or social worker.
Get advice on backdating benefits
You could get other benefits backdated based on your circumstances. For example, if you're disabled or a carer. The rules are different for each benefit.
Contact Citizens Advice to check what you’re entitled to and get help with applying. They can also help you challenge a benefits decision if your claim is rejected.
Last updated: 4 October 2022